The letter, signed by women from the entertainment, publishing and academic fields, argued that supporters of the #MeToo movement and a French counterpart have gone too far by publicly prosecuting private experiences and that they have created a totalitarian climate.
“Rape is a crime,” the letter said. “But insistent or clumsy flirting is not a crime, nor is gallantry a chauvinist aggression.’’
In a line that drew particular outrage, the letter encouraged women “not to feel forever traumatized” by what the writers dismissed as relatively minor forms of sexual harassment. They cited, as an example, men who masturbate by rubbing themselves against women on buses or subways.
They said women could “consider it as the expression of a great sexual misery, or even as a…